After a pair of top-25 wins in weeks one and two, the Iowa Hawkeyes return home to Kinnick Stadium for a new set of challenges. While the Kent State Golden Flashes are not a top-25 team, they boast a top-5 offense from a season ago that is sure to test this vaunted Iowa defense.
The Hawkeyes opened up this week as 21.5 point favorites in a games that was expected to top 55.5 points. There’s been some movement during the week, but most books now have Iowa around a 22-22.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 56 points.
So how do The Pants think this one shakes out? Well, we’re collectively on the Hawkeyes, though there is one among us who is calling for the epic upset. Despite picking Iowa to win, our consensus calls for Kent State to cover with the points. On average, we have this one as Iowa 32, Kent State 16. That’s pretty comfortably inside the final line for the Golden Flashes and also comfortably under the total points of 56.
Here’s an in depth look at how each of us expect this game to shake out.
This Kent State team is no slouch. The Golden Flashes boasted one of the top offenses in the nation in 2020 with the second-best rushing attack in the country. Coming into 2021, Iowa’s ability to stop the run was a major concern. Through two games, those concerns have eased, but this is a new test in week three.
I expect the Iowa defense to bend a bit with this Kent State attack, but likely to hold in a similar fashion to what we saw out of Texas A&M in week one. On the flip side, this is a get right game for an Iowa offense that has struggled to get much going and hasn’t been asked to do more than convert excellent field position into limited points. I suspect the Hawkeyes leverage a porous Golden Flash defense to figure some things out in the run game while dialing up a few play-action passes to get Spencer Petras some confidence.
Iowa 38, Kent State 10
I’m interested to see if Iowa treats this game as an opportunity to work on their run game and does that no matter how many players Kent State stuffs into the box or an opportunity to get a few of the lesser used offensive players going. Kent State’s defensive line cannot get off blocks and Iowa could potentially put up 40+ minutes of possession riding Tyler Goodson and Ivory Kelly-Martin to 20+ carries a piece.
Many years this Kent State hurry up attack with a mobile QB might cause concern, but not in 2021. Iowa has been rotating 9 defensive lineman and have one of the best back sevens in the entire country. If Crum chooses to run very much, he’s likely to meet a swarm of defensive players wanting to end his day early. I could see him picking up some big first downs early on the ground, but that is not a successful longterm play against this defense.
A late score against backup secondary players closes the gap, but Iowa enjoys another win.
Iowa 36, Kent State 16
As Hawkeye legend Hayden Fry used to say, “You gotta dance with who brung ya!” Well, Coach Fry. I’m dancing. If you follow these predictions you know the story. If not, here it is. I picked the Hawks to win the first two last year. Both losses. After that, I picked them to lose. And lose. And lose. And lose... I will continue to pick against our squad come heck or high water. Kent State has a pretty solid team. There definitely could be some let down in our Hawkeyes. I remember the debacles against Tulsa, Western Michigan, NDSU, and so on. Until we are singing “In Heaven There Is No Beer”, anything can happen. It’s a nail-biter. Kent State recovers an onside kick and beats us as the clock expires. As always, Go Hawks!
Kent State 17, Iowa 16
Kent State is the kind of team that would make me nervous going against previous Iowa squads, but the Hawkeyes have enough talent and depth on defense to wear down the Golden Flash offense, and Kent State is not likely to have much of an answer for the Iowa running game. Don’t be shocked if Kent State manages to move the ball early as the Hawkeye defense adjusts to the speed of the game, but once that happens, the Black and Gold will put this game in the bag.
Iowa 42, Kent State 13
After starting 2021 with vegetables instead of sweets, Iowa finally gets to belly up to the dessert table for the next two weeks. Hope there’s gelato to mix in my coffee!
Iowa 41, Kent State 10
Spencer Petras FINALLY gets a game that isn’t a conference game or ranked opponent. Hopefully the Hawkeye offense finds it’s footing and the defense keeps rolling.
Iowa 37, Kent State 6
Kent State can fill it up and it’ll strike fear into the hearts of Iowa fans for approximately 10 minutes. But Iowa is able to reassert their run game to my chagrin and get enough production in the red zone for this thing to be comfortable halfway through the 4th quarter. That means it’s just enough time for Alex Padilla to Benny Hill his way through a three & out, which is more a critique on the limited playbook Iowa QB2s are granted in
garbage time than Padilla’s play against Indiana. Then Kent State stops just short of breaking the 25 point streak or whatever.
Iowa 42, Kent State 20
Not much to say here. I’m hoping to see some interesting things from the offense that give us hope. The defense should, well, be the defense. And maybe we’ll see some backups. This is a tune up game that Iowa desperately needs if our hopes for a special season are going to come to fruition. Kent State might put up a bit of a fight though, which should/could be fun, until Iowa puts them away in the second half.
Iowa 42, Kent State 21
That’s what we think. What do you think, Hawkeye fans? Can Iowa keep the winning streak going? Will the offense show us anything? What is YOUR prediction for Saturday’s game?